The 1954 final was memorable for a number of reasons. Not only did it bring two of the game’s greats, Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard, into opposition of each other, it also took place in front of the largest crowd ever recorded at that point – 84,856. I believe that record still stands to this day.
It was also a memorable occasion on a personal level for Christy Ring, who became the first player to win eight All-Irelands, and the third player to captain three champion sides.
Although Wexford lag behind Cork in terms of numbers of All-Ireland titles, they truly dominated hurling in the 1950s. They lost to Cork in 1954 by 1-9 to 1-6, but had been seriously hampered by the loss of their full-back, Nick O’Donnell, to injury. When their defense was rearranged to cover for this loss, Cork were able to take full advantage of this and grab the win.
It was Wexford that took the McCarthy cup home the next two years, including gaining a sweet revenge on Cork in 1956, Their rivalry was a clean respectful battle though, evidenced by the Wexford team carrying Christy Ring off the field shoulder-high after defeating Cork in ’56.
This period was also the heyday of Nicky Rackard’s career, as he retired from inter-county hurling after Wexford lost to Kilkenny in 1957. Rackard is recognised as one of the sport’s greatest players, and remains one of the top ten most prolific goal-scorers of all time.
Purchase framed photographs and prints @ Irish Photo Archive